The 50th Anniversary of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will be celebrated in a number of ways this season. One of which is a countdown of the league’s 50 greatest players based solely on their QMJHL accomplishments. They stand out among 9511 players who played in the QMJHL over the past 50 years. Yours truly was part of the committee entrusted with the difficult task of making these selections.
The player ranked at No. 4 in the QMJHL’s 50-year history is Pat LaFontaine.
The US-born LaFontaine who hails from Missouri arrived in the “Q” in September 1982 after being a ninth-round pick of the Verdun Junior. No 17-year-old has ever had the type of impact LaFontaine has had. He racked up 104 goals and 130 assists for 234 points in 70 games to lead the league in points. Lafontaine then led his team to the President Cup by defeating the Longueuil Chevaliers in the final, which included three games played at the Montreal Forum in front tens of thousands of fans.
Needless to say, LaFontaine still holds league records for goals, assists and points in a season by a 17-year-old. His 234-point season meanwhile remains the third-highest scoring campaign in league history behind only Mario Lemieux and Pierre Larouche.
In his only QMJHL season, he picked up at least one point in 69 of 70 games. He was only held off the score sheet in January against Shawinigan after a 43-game point streak – still the fifth-longest such streak in league history.
When all was said and done, LaFontaine wasn’t lacking in the hardware department, winning the Jean-Beliveau Trophy (Regular season scoring champion), Michel-Brière Trophy (League MVP), Frank-J.-Selke Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike Player), Coaches Trophy (top offensive rookie), Mike-Bossy Trophy (top professional prospect), Guy-Lafleur Trophy (Playoff MVP), President Cup winner and was a first-team All-Star. How’s that?
LaFontaine was inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame on March 21, 2000 and is the only American-born player to have cracked our Top 50.